Consumer Reports is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to helping consumers. We make it easy to buy the right product from a variety of retailers. Clicking a retailer link will take you to that retailer’s website to shop. When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission – 100% of the fees we collect are used to support our mission. Learn more. Our service is unbiased: retailers can’t influence placement. All prices are subject to change.
Pesticides should always be used with caution, and especially when used indoors.  Never use a pesticide for bed bugs that does not bear clear directions stating that it can be used indoors.  Never spray yourself, children or pets with a pesticide.  And follow the label safety directions carefully.  Pesticide labels contain directionsfor use that are not merely suggestions.  Failure to follow directions exactly is illegal and can result in poor control and possible harm to yourself and family.  For more information, see the EPA Consumer Alert on pesticides and bed bugs.
Bed bug infestations are primarily the result of two species of insects from genus Cimex: Cimex lectularius (the common bed bug) and Cimex hemipterus.[3] These insects feed exclusively on blood and may survive a year without eating.[3] Adult Cimex are light brown to reddish-brown, flat, oval, and have no hind wings. The front wings are vestigial and reduced to pad-like structures. Adults grow to 4–5 mm (0.16–0.20 in) long and 1.5–3 mm (0.059–0.118 in) wide.
If you live in an apartment or condominium, it’s best to alert the property manager.  A coordinated bed bug control effort using a pest control company is generally needed in such situations. Bed bugs readily move from apartment to apartment, with many people unaware that they have a problem. If one apartment is infested, adjoining units (left side, right side, above and below) should be assumed to be infested unless shown otherwise through inspection or monitoring.  Simply asking tenants whether they have bed bugs is not enough.  In one recent study only half of apartment residents whose homes were determined to have bed, bugs knew (or admitted) they had a bed bug problem.
Although bedbugs are generally nocturnal, they're like humans—if they're hungry, they'll get up and get something to eat. "If you go away to visit a friend for a week and you come back and sit down on the couch, even though it's daytime the bedbugs will come looking for you," Schal says. Keeping a light on, then, unfortunately does not keep these tiny vampires away.
Excessively scratching the itchy, bitten areas also may increase the chance of a secondary skin infection. Antiseptic creams or lotions can be used to ward off infection and antihistamines can be used to treat the itching. And an infestation can take a psychological toll on those affected: People whose homes have been infested with bedbugs may have trouble sleeping for fear of being bitten in the night. There are also public health, social and economic consequences; office buildings and schools often have to close if they are dealing with a bedbug infestation.
Bed bug incidents in schools are best handled by knowledgeable pest control firms. Widespread insecticide treatment of classrooms, hallways, buses, etc. is unnecessary, ineffective and imprudent. Effort instead should be spent checking chairs, desks, lockers, coat rooms, etc. in the vicinity of where the bugs were found, and treatment should be focused on those specific areas. Canine inspections can also be useful in finding small numbers of bed bugs in schools and other establishments where there are no beds.      
Insecticides are an effective way to eradicate bed bugs, but not the only way. If you or someone in your house is highly sensitive to chemicals, or you’re just not crazy about the idea of spraying chemicals where you sleep, kill the little blood suckers with heat. Temperatures above 120 degrees F kill all stages of bed bugs. Steamers can be used to treat all the same areas where you would have sprayed contact killers. Steamers like the one shown at (top) cost about $150 and are good for many other projects like removing wallpaper, cleaning tile, removing labels, cleaning engine parts and removing wrinkles from fabric.
The next recommendation is a mixture of essential oils. You might see one of many oils or combinations of oils in online discussion, whether it’s clove oil, cedar wood, lavender, or a combination of mint oils. The use of these against bed bugs dates back centuries, as their simple method of suffocating the bugs predates the use of sophisticated chemical killers.
As bed bugs grow they molt, shedding their skin five times before reaching maturity. A blood meal is needed between each successive molt. Adult females also must feed in order to lay eggs. Under favorable conditions (70-80°F), the bugs can mature fully in as little as a month, producing multiple generations per year. Cooler temperatures or limited access to blood prolong the development time. 

Bed bugs will also succumb to cold temperatures below 32°F, but the freezing temperatures must be maintained for a longer period (e.g., one to two weeks). Consequently, heating tends to be a better option throughout much of the country. Efforts to rid entire dwellings of bed bugs by raising or lowering the thermostat will be unsuccessful, although pest control firms are able to achieve lethal temperatures with supplemental heaters (see the subsequent section entitled "Heat Treatments" for more details). 
I work @ a hotel, and just found out that one of the rooms has a bed bug problem. I work at the front desk, and never go into the rooms. But i work third shift, and sleep in the chair in the lobby. Just wanted to know what my chances were of catching them? I will be going home and looking just to make sure. But since i work here, and its un-avoidable, what are some things i can do to protect myself from taking them home?
×